Students at Stevenson Elementary School put their creative skills to the test recently during the National School Breakfast Week poster contest that was the brainchild of Russellville Independent Schools Food Services Director Elaine Dixon.
Breakfast “sets the tone for the whole day at school,” Dixon said of why she wanted the children to participate in the contest to learn more about the importance of eating a healthy breakfast. “A hungry child cannot stay focused, doesn’t have energy. It inhibits their learning.”
Most of the classes at SES took part in the contest, which bore the theme, “Be a Star with School Breakfast,” and vied for the first-place right to plan, with Dixon’s guidance, a week’s worth of healthy breakfast menus for their school. The second place winner won the right to plan three days worth of breakfasts, while the third-place winners got to create two breakfast menus with Dixon’s help.
Holly Gilbert’s second grade class, who won the top honor, last Thursday enjoyed working with Dixon to choose healthy items like fruit and sausage on a stick (sausage wrapped in a whole grain pancake) for their menu, which will be implemented in the next few weeks.
Morgan Basham’s fourth grade class won second place in the contest. Nicole Osborne’s third-graders took third-place honors. Winning honorable mentions were Carrie Shanklin’s first-graders, Sara Gulley’s special education students and Sarah Quigg’s Kindergarteners.
Before helping the children plan menus, Dixon taught them how to read food labels to determine nutritional value and how to identify whole grains. She also discussed the importance of limiting fast food, junk food and sugary drinks.
Dixon worked with SES Family Resource Center Director Carol Kees to set up the project. Kees, who founded the Healthy Eating Contest that is ongoing among classes at SES, was glad to help.
“School breakfast is so important because so many of our kids don’t eat (breakfast) at home,” she said. “They come in and they’re cranky, and they go out (of the cafeteria) with a smile.”
Dixon was thrilled with the effort the children put into making their posters meaningful.
“I had no idea how hard a job it would be to pick the winners because they were so creative,” she said. “I was so pleased with how they took the theme ‘Be a Star with School Breakfast’ and incorporated it into their posters. I was really impressed.”
National School Breakfast Week was March 4-8.